“Doesn’t God want me to be happy?”
I remember being asked this question many years ago.
At the time, because I knew no better, my response was something like, “Christianity isn’t about your happiness. It’s about pleasing God.”
I cringe at the thought now.
This answer was full of religious overtones. As if becoming a better human is the point. As if appeasing a perpetually angry God is the point.
So, if this answer was gross (and it was), what really is true about God’s intention toward us? Does he want us to be happy? If so, how is this outworked by him?
RELIGION AND HAPPINESS
-don’t do this
-have excellent behavior
-make good choices
-don’t wear this
-be a good person
-please God by following his rules
-do certain things every day
-be better than the world
More often than not, religion produces self-importance, self-righteousness, self-preservation… all false forms of happiness. We’re happy as a clam with ourselves, and proud of us too. But this happiness is lying to us. And it doesn’t last.
If we don’t live self-happy in our religion, we may take another view in our religion which concludes,
-God only says no to us
-There’s no freedom in Christianity
-It’s only restrictive
Indeed, religion is not freedom.
And religion does not produce happiness.
THE FEELINGS SIN GIVES US
If we’re honest people, so often sin feels good. That outburst of anger when someone was wretched to me felt good. Talking about that person who majorly messed up feels good. Getting that thing I’ve been coveting so hard feels good. Acting on the lust I’ve been suppressing feels so good.
The feeling that accompanies the fulfillment of desire (ie. giving into temptation, ie. taking what we desire) can be so so strong! So when we believe Christianity is lived by resisting, it’s easy to conclude God doesn’t want us to be happy.
But when the Bible calls something sin, it’s not because God wants you to live restricted or unhappy. It’s because he wants you to see how restricted you actually are! The slavery you and I were born in disguises itself as freedom. But it’s the most restricted life you or I could live!! Yes, fulfilling sin’s wishes feels good, but we don’t realize it’s manipulating us to stay under the authority of darkness.
FINDING HAPPY IN GOD
Friends, God wants you to be deliriously happy! Deliriously!
…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
I love this verse within the context of today’s discussion. The kingdom of God (who the Church is and how she lives) is not religion (like following rules about eating and drinking). No, life lived from the kingdom of God is righteousness… peace… joy!
The original Greek (New Testament) word for righteousness comes from a word which means “to show” or “to guide”. The kingdom of God is not lived by following static rules, but by following the dynamic internal guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Greek word for peace comes from a word which means “joining”, and its Hebrew (Old Testament) word comes from a word which means “completion or full”. The kingdom of God is lived by joining with Christ, living from His glorified vessel in God’s throne room while still dwelling on earth.
The Greek word for joy comes from a word which means “to be cheerful or happy”. Friends, life lived from the source of the Holy Spirit rather than the flesh is one of profound happiness. It’s a life of hearing “yes” from God. It’s a life of being lavishly tended to, intimately known, and strongly desired. It’s a life with Someone who always is there for you, never leaves you, and showers you with overt affection.
When we miss Christ for religion, we miss his guidance, his power, his friendship, and the great happiness he brings us. What is masquerading as happiness does not compare to the happiness available to us in Christ.
God wants you to be in the happiest relationship you could ever be in (relationship with Him). He wants you to be victorious in everything you do. He wants you to thrill at his power and wisdom surging through you. He wants your heart to skip a beat because you majorly risked and he caught you.
Friend—GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY!!!
He knows from slavery, from religion, from life walked out in the natural, we haven’t even tapped into what happy is!
If this is where you find yourself today, take heart. God is closer than you know, pursuing you more than you realize, and ready to show you the happiness of the freedom of the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus available to you right now.
Pursue Him, dear friend. He’ll make you so happy!
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